Gustavo Ortiz

I first discovered the work of Gustavo Ortiz on a visit to the Pure Evil gallery in East London, and I instantly fell in love with the artist’s strange, magical collages.

Argentinian Ortiz now lives and works in London, but the distinctive imagery of his native land still infuses his fascinating collages. I recently asked Gustavo a few questions about the magical influences on his work and the techniques he uses to achieve their wonderfully timeworn appearance.

Self Portrait IV by Gustavo OrtizImage copyright the artist

Self Portrait IV by Gustavo Ortiz
Image copyright the artist

MSFM: Why have you chosen to work in collage, rather than more traditional media such as painting or drawing?

GO: I always liked to work with paper, I enjoy the artisan aspect of collage and have made my practice very material orientated. I love the texture you can achieve by layering the paper, as the feel of the plain colour gives a very tactile quality.

MSFM: Many of your works appear to have an ‘aged’ finish, as if they are antiques . What is the thinking behind this?

GO: The last part of my work is a waxing process which at the same time kills the vibrancy of the colour, and rescues the texture of the paper, making it more noticeable, also giving my work a more earthy character.

Metamorphosis #17 by Gustavo OrtizImage copyright the artist

Metamorphosis #17 by Gustavo Ortiz
Image copyright the artist

MSFM: It seems that a sense of magic and myth is always present in your work – what was the inspiration for this aspect of your art?

GO: I take a lot of inspiration from the different Pre-Columbian cultures of South America, especially from Patagonia, which is the area where I come from. Out of context in time and space their religion seems magic, but the legends from which I take inspiration were their actual beliefs, their explanation of the meaning of what was happening around them. I always found these ‘explanations’ very surreal and stimulating.

MSFM: How has your South American heritage influenced the magical aspects of your work?

GO: One of the essential elements of my work is a naive feel which became part of the language that I use as an artist, which in my opinion is a vital aspect of Latin American art, from the native to the first colonial art which was made by amateur artists. So you could say that coming from South America has influenced my formal representational voice more than the magical content. I think the magical and mythical aspect of my work is more of a personal preference than something imposed by where I come from. Living in London I have been in contact with even more exotic magic and mythical influences, being a multicultural melting pot, and I have been assimilating them, without of course losing my primary voice.

Home Sweet Home by Gustavo OrtizImage copyright the artist

Home Sweet Home by Gustavo Ortiz
Image copyright the artist

It’s hard to pigeonhole Gustavo Oritz’s work. He is often shown alongside Urban Art, but I don’t think he really belongs there. His works are surreal, but very different from 20th Century Surrealism. They are quiet but powerful, pretty but also disturbingly curious and uncanny, modern yet reminiscent of a time long gone. I love them, but then as someone constantly searching for magic in the modern world, I would, wouldn’t I?!

Find out more at http://www.gustavoortiz.com

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